Dawn & Decline: Notes 1926-1931 and 1950-1969
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This volume contains selections from two Horkheimer works, Dämmerung, Notizen in Deutschland (here translated as Dawn, Notes 1926-1931) which was originally published in 1934 under the pseudonym Heinrich Regius, and has never been republished since, and Notizen, 1950-1969 (here translated as Decline, Notes 1950-1969).
Concerning the earlier work, Horkheimer wrote: “This book is outdated. The reflections contained in it are occasional notes formulated during periods of rest from a demanding piece of work, and the author did not take the time to polish them. This is also the reason they do not constitute and orderly sequence. They contain repetitions and even some contradictions. Yet the themes explored provide a kind of unity. They critically examine and re-examine the meaning concepts such as metaphysics, character, morality, personality and the value of the human being had during that phase of capitalism. Since they predate the final victory of National Socialism, they deal with a world that has become anachronistic since. . . . Yet the thoughts of the author who lived his life as an individualist may not be wholly without significance at a later time.”
The second part of this volume may suggest an additional reason for Horkheimer’s use of the term “outdated” for his earlier book. This section not only marks the end of the liberal bourgeoisie for Horkheimer but may also define the beginnings of a rethinking of the sanguine Marxism developed in the late twenties. Commenting on Horkheimer’s development, his German editor, Werner Brede, writes: “He was no theoretician of decline; but he did recognize that the historical and philosophical climate had changed.” Or again: “In the Notizen, 1950-1969, Horkheimer’s unorthodox sociological perspective defined the contours of a ‘society in transition.’ Here, the critical pessimism never wholly absent from his philosophy definitively supplants the hopes of Marxism.”
Each reader will have to decide for himself whether the pervasive pessimism of the later work is total despair or a more complex, more highly differentiated assessment of a later phase in the development of man and society; whether it is mere “expression,” or philosophical insight with a claim to truth.
contemplation, he may even sketch the image of an ideal "community," but his understanding of class relationships will not noticeably improve. Indeed, the fact that the 8.ight toward the eternal is possible under existing class relationships will constitute a certain vindication of them, particularly when the metaphysician imputes absolute value to this 8.ight. A society in which the person may fulfill his high destiny in such important respects cannot be DAWN & DECLINE altogether bad. At least
thought. "Perhaps I should take that risk, it might tum out" can be conveyed by a gesture, which, if as a child one never saw one's father make, one is not a complete person as we understand it, one has been cheated. For that gesture, pleasura ble because of the very contradiction it harbors, and made by a man who can forbid himself and others many things, first illuminates the meaning of that strictness which is itself a millenia-old legacy. It is possible only against the background of a love
what positivism is to the Enlightenment. It no longer has any enemies. Dialectic of Enlightenment (2): The dialectic of the Enlighten ment consists largely in the change from light to darkness. This means not only that the disintegration of mythology is accompanied Max Horkheimer by the disappearance of experience and the capacity for it. Because of the spiritual passivity which befalls men in the new economy, the exclusive concentration on money and job, the sophisticated clever ness to
They neither know nor feel what they are doing. I plead the incompetence of the tribunal and for the return of Eichmann to the country from which he was taken. Nothing good will· come of this trial, neither for the security and position of Jews in the world, nor for their self-consciousness. The trial is a repetition: Eichmann will do harm a second time. Spirit: The substantive moment in a spiritual whole is abstract. Taken by itself, the doctrine of a religion tells us little about it.
Religions Note on Dialectics Myth and Enlightenment Reason of State DAWN & DECLINE 121 122 123 123 123 124 124 Temptation The Promotion of Science The Busy Man Hegel Criticism Personal Property The Special Exclusiveness of Love 125 125 125 126 126 126 1956 Freedom of Thought The End of Speech Educational Reform Psychoanalysis as Judge On Anti-Semitism Perversion, a Dreadful Vision The World-Historical Personality Employer-Employee Thinking and Having Church Fathers and· Prophets On the Nature